McDonald’s Gets Super-Sized Backlash With Instagram Ads

People aren’t loving it

Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Just as marketers expect for Instagram to open its advertising platform to the masses soon, a new McDonald’s promo underscores the challenges that marketers may have in nailing ads on the social-mobile app. 

McDonald’s recently ran a number of sponsored ads on Instagram to promote the Bacon Clubhouse burger that was launched earlier this year to appeal to millennials and make up for slipping sales. Like a bunch of other millennial-focused marketers, McDonald’s likely picked Instagram to grab the attention of smartphone-toting youngsters. These marketing efforts seem to be falling flat though with a swarm of backlash against the burger chain’s ad.

"While we are unable to provide specific details about our media strategies, we are always looking to engage with our guests and fans in fun and relevant ways in social media. Instagram allows us to share compelling and entertaining photos about our brand, food and more in unexpected and innovative ways," said David Martinelli, digital marketing manager at McDonald’s.

One such ad appeared on Monday morning. The post had 45,347 "likes" and 1,941 comments, many of which were negative from users who were ticked off by seeing a McDonald’s ad in their newsfeeds.

Take a look at some of the comments on the expanded picture above, but needless to say, the sponsored ad is not getting the kind of response that McDonald’s likely envisioned.

The burger slinger is running a few different types of creative on Instagram, and a quick search on Twitter shows that users are equally as unenthused (and vocal) about the fast food’s promos on Twitter as they are on Instagram.



In fact, some of the negative tweets stem back to early July when the brand ran a World Cup ad.

The burger chain’s seemingly big Instagram backlash comes at an interesting time as some experts expect for the mobile-social app to start earning $100 million quarterly if it were to roll out its photo-based promos to a wider group of marketers.

While there are likely hoards of photo-savvy brands in line to run Instagram ads, McDonald’s campaign suggests that while marketers see its potential as red-hot, consumers aren’t ready to see ads start popping up in streams of photos yet.

Mickey D’s efforts also suggest that fast food chains may not be as well-suited for Instagram as other image-heavy brands like the fashion labels and sports marketers that routinely dominate social engagement on the platform.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.